MANILA — Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Thursday said that former Health Secretary Janette Garin and former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad were “the principal conspirators in the anomalous procurement and questionable implementation” of the botched Dengvaxia vaccination program.
On the other hand, former President Benigno Aquino III is only guilty of negligence, Ejercito said.
“I believe that while former President Benigno Aquino III is guilty of negligence for not exercising due diligence. It is his two Cabinet members who should be primarily held liable for the Dengvaxia mess that has endangered the lives of almost one million children,” Ejercito said in a statement.
Ejercito, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, said Garin was the one who recommended the purchase of the PHP3.5 billion untested vaccine.
He said that “the purchase was pushed despite the fact that the clinical trials were not yet finished and ignored the warnings by some experts as to its dangers.”
On the other hand, Ejercito said Abad “facilitated, recommended, and approved the release of the money without congressional approval in amazing record time, and during a holiday period at that!”
“PNoy should have exercised more prudence and oversight instead of allowing Garin and Abad to proceed with the purchase of the controversial vaccine. That is a failure of leadership that should hound his conscience and legacy,” Ejercito said.
Besides charging Abad and Garin in court, Ejercito also urged the government to help the public initiate a class suit against Sanofi Pasteur, the maker of Dengvaxia.
“Legal action should be taken by the Philippine government against Sanofi towards the establishment of an indemnity fund for children who were vaccinated in order to provide them with financial assistance for medical care throughout their lifetimes,” he said.
He said that filing of charges would give the chance for all the accused to air their side and defend themselves in court.
“We need to do more to provide assistance to the victims. That is why I filed the Dengvaxia Assistance Program Bill so we can monitor and address the needs of those victimized by this scandal. The hearings also revealed the need to provide for an FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) independent of, and autonomous from, the Department of Health (DOH). This is the purpose of Senate Bill No. 1631 which I filed,” Ejercito said.
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Senator Richard Gordon on Wednesday presented the draft report of the committee on the Dengvaxia issue.
The report recommended the criminal prosecution of Aquino, Garin, Abad, and other former officials “for all the tragedy, damage and possible deaths as a result of the Dengvaxia mass vaccination program.”
The draft report also recommended the filing of a case against Sanofi Pasteur. PNA-northboundasia.com